Recipe #13: Split pea and smoked ham soup

It’s not very often that I receive a follow-up phone call to demand the recipe of something I served for dinner. In fact, this is the first time it’s ever happened. And when that recipe is for something as prosaic as soup, you realise you may have, accidentally, cooked something quite decent. So, after three years of neglecting this blog, here is recipe number 13, especially for my friend Squilly. It’s best served around a fire with wine and home-made garlic pizza bread that was supposed to be light and fluffy, but turned out flat and crunchy instead.

I scrolled through lank photos of other people’s pea soup to find a match, and eventually settled for something that might be from Shutterstock. If you sprinkle your ham bits, a few unblended unsplit peas, plus some mint over this recipe, and lovingly bathe it in natural light, it will totally look exactly like this.


  • Most of a 500g packet of split peas (In South Africa, you’ll find these in the same aisle as the samp and beans)
  • 1 brown onion, finely chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, chopped
  • A large glug of olive oil
  • 2 Woolies chicken stock cubes (none of that Imana stuff, plz)
  • About 1 litre water, depending on how liquidy you like your soup
  • About 500g smoked ham. (3 or 4 kassler chops would work). I used smoked ham that I got from the farmer’s market in Sedgefield and then flew back to Cape Town with in my carry on luggage. But you don’t need to go to such lengths. Don’t chop the meat up yet.
  • 1 potato, peeled and diced
  • A cup of frozen peas

I prefer these peas

What to do

  • Soak the split peas for a couple of hours before getting started. This will save on cooking time later.
  • Fry the onion and garlic in the olive oil and brown the pork on a highish heat.
  • Add the split peas, water and stock cubes and leave to simmer for, like, a while. (I dunno – 40 minutes?)
  • Add the potato because you just realised it might be nice to have potato in it and you have a potato.
  • About 15 minutes before you plan to serve the soup, dump in the frozen peas. These will give the soup a nice bright green colour.
  • 5 minutes before serving, fish out all the pork and blend the soup into greeny creaminess with an oopah-zooter. (I call stick blenders oopah-zooters. ‘Stick blender’ is such a lame name.)
  • Chop the pork into little cubes while swearing about burning your fingers doing so.
  • Throw pork cubes back into soup, stir, and serve.
  • Boom.

Time taken

  • Preparation: Less than 15 minutes
  • Cooking time: About an hour
  • Post-cooking blending of soup and chunking of meat: 5 mins

Dishes dirtied

  • 1 large pot
  • 1 wooden spoon
  • 1 stick blender
  • 1 chopping board
  • 1 knife
  • 1 potato peeler


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s